How do you know when you’ve achieved your social media goals? First, you have to set some. Once the goals are in place, you must look at the measurements of your organization’s online performance, otherwise known as metrics.
Though 84% of business to business (B2B) marketers use social media in some form (Source: Aberdeen), 53% don’t measure what they’re doing. (Source: Awareness, Inc.) To me, this sounds like playing “pin the tail on the donkey” in the dark.
How will you know when you’ve hit your target?
I developed a simple tool for my clients to help track performance which you can create yourself. Open an Excel spreadsheet and in the far left column, list all of the online tools you are using to provide information, promote, or communicate about your business. Many of them are easy such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp!, etc. There are some you may forget like your Google Local Listing (formerly know as Google Places) or comments on your blog.
Along the top row, include the months of the year. I recommend looking at your numbers when you close your books. Build it into your month-end process list along with account reconciliation, billing, and inventory. This takes me approximately one hour to complete. If you only use a few tools, it will take you less time. Recording your numbers at month-end will allow for a month-over-month comparison for reporting to boards or for simple review of performance, depending on your needs.
Underneath each of the tools, list the metrics that these platforms provide you with by default. Facebook has items like fans, people talking about this, most viral post, sources of traffic. Your blog has subscribers and comments. Your email marketing has total subscribers, opens, bounces, spam reports, opt outs. Google Analytics has enough data to choke a horse. Start with the basics: visits, unique visits, bounce rate, average time on site, pages per visit, and number one source of traffic. You can add more metrics as you determine what’s important to you.
The danger with data
The danger with data is that you can spend your entire life reading, digesting, and obsessing over it. I call this “geeking out”. Unless you are getting paid to pour over it for hours at a time, keep your data review sessions to a minimum. Checking your stats too frequently will cause you to freeze. You will find yourself so worried about the outcome of each action, you lose the organic feel and it becomes stiff.
When reviewing, think about what may have caused a metric to go up or down by using critical thinking. Your fluctuations will most likely be easy to figure out. Maybe your website was down for a couple days, you haven’t blogged in three months, you sent out an email newsletter on a low-ranking day, Facebook changed it’s algorithm and your reach has dropped, you were on the radio that day, or you drafted a witty update and it was retweeted from here until Sunday.
I look at a calendar to see what I did because it’s cause and effect. In reviewing my web visits several years ago, I noticed a huge spike that I couldn’t attribute to any action on my part. By chance, I had a conversation with Geralin and asked if she had mentioned me to anyone. She said that she had brought up my name to a large group and as a result I had three times my normal traffic. (Thanks, Geralin!)
Achieve your goals
Are you achieving your goals? You may find there are tasks that need to be undertaken to get there. Test your email marketing by sending on a different day or tinker with your headline. Alter the times of day or frequency you post to social networks. Fix nagging problems on your branded channels. If one of your tools isn’t performing the way you want, it may need some adjustment. After a certain amount of time, you may realize that one tool simply isn’t working for you and there has been no return on investment. You won’t know until you track it.
The final measurement? Conversion! Here’s to hitting your target.
Guest Post by Kerry Rego of Kerry Rego Consulting. Kerry is a Social Media & Technology Consultant and Keynote Speaker working with individuals, businesses, government, and non-profits. She educates, implements, and trains on new media tools. Kerry is County of Sonoma’s social media staff trainer, City of Santa Rosa Recreation & Parks social media instructor, lead trainer for California Community College’s Interactive Internet Mobile Applications for Business program, and a Vistage speaker. Kerry is the recipient of the North Bay Business Journal’s 2011 “Forty Under 40 Award” and the author of What You Don’t Know About Social Media CAN Hurt You: Take Control of Your Online Reputation.